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Case studies

How Peecho helped Polarsteps monetize user content

November 23, 2022

Travel app Polarsteps helps users plan, track and share their adventures from their phone, as well as enabling them to turn their photos into a commemorative, one-click travel book.

About Polarsteps

There are two types of people: those who plan every last detail of a trip, right down to hotel transfers and daily itineraries, and those who put all their trust in the first type and just show up at the airport hoping for the best. If Polarsteps were a person, they’d be the first kind.

Developed in Amsterdam by a team of travel enthusiasts, the all-in-one travel app – which has had more than nine million downloads since its launch in 2016 – is like having your very own travel guide and personal assistant rolled into one, right at your fingertips.

As well as a digital world map that uses GPS tracking to log and display your travels, there’s an editable itinerary and transport planner designed to help you get from A to B, plus travel guides and tips curated by Polarsteps’ travel editors.

And that’s not all. You can also upload photos and videos that you can choose to keep private or share with friends and family back home, and even turn your memories – including pictures, maps and travel stats – into a bespoke hardcover photo book courtesy of Peecho.

“Delivering a premium book was mandatory for us – and that’s where Peecho came in.”

How Polarsteps caught the travel bug

Rather fittingly, co-founder and creative director Niek Bokkers first had the idea for the Polarsteps app while on a catamaran in the middle of the Atlantic. “I was on a sailing trip and wanted to keep my family updated on where I was,” Niek recalls.

His solution? To write a line of code enabling him to send his GPS coordinates to a server in the Netherlands via satellite phone. The server would then plot the coordinates on a map each night, allowing his family to track his progress and send him messages throughout his journey.

But, just like Rome, Polarsteps wasn’t built in a day. Before securing funding, Niek worked on the app as a side project. “After the first version of the app went live in 2015, it quickly started gaining traction and Polarsteps was officially formed.”

Foundations established, Polarsteps soon began to acquire users through an organic growth loop. “Users came in organically, and I think that’s kind of unique,” says Niek. “It took a few months for us to notice the flywheel effect. When a user went traveling, they would invite their friends to follow them on their trip. Eventually, those friends also turned into traveling users with their own followers.” As more users joined the platform and shared their travels, the app's user base continued to expand at an impressive rate, growing exponentially every year.

How Peecho helped Polarsteps monetize user content

Initially, travel books weren't even on Polarsteps' radar. According to Niek, content monetization was never part of the plan. “The idea to offer photo books came from our users, not from us. We got so many requests for travel books that we finally decided to implement them, allowing us to generate value for the user while supporting our business growth.”

“Monetization is a choice, and faced with choosing either growth or revenue from the app, we chose growth. But satisfying your users is also part of your success, so we decided to consider printing as an extension of our business.” This decision proved to be a total game-changer for Polarsteps, with Peecho’s hardcover photo books not only providing an income stream for the app, but also accounting for 100% of the revenue it generates today.

Polarsteps chose to integrate with Peecho via our print API – our recommended print solution for apps and platforms, or businesses with access to developer resource. Our software handles all the complex tasks behind the scenes, automating the production and fulfillment of the app's photo books at the push of a button. Better yet, our global print operations mean we’re able to route orders to the print facility closest to the delivery location, resulting in greener, cheaper, faster fulfillment for its global user base.

So, what’s next for Polarsteps? “To build the best product we can.” answers Niek. And in true Polarsteps style, he already has the app’s journey mapped out. “We don’t believe in big marketing campaigns. We’d rather invest our time in creating true value within the app itself. That’s what we’ve always done, and it’s what we’ll continue to do.”

“The profit we make from selling photo books through Peecho allows us to make continuous improvements to the app and has even helped us grow our team.”